The recent devastating fires in the Los Angeles area have created a myriad of housecleaning challenges. Depending upon your proximity to the fires or the direction of the winds, a house can be blanketed in ash. Removing ash from the exterior or interior premises can be daunting and even hazardous. Here are a few steps for tackling this job.
- Protect yourself: Wear an N-95 or P-100 mask. Wear a long sleeved shirt, pants, boots, and gloves if the as is thick and can come in contact with your skin.
- Avoid stirring up the ash as much as possible. Do not use leaf blowers or do other things that will put ash back into the atmosphere
- Vacuum the ash with a high efficiency HEPA-filter vacuum. Do not use a vacuum without one as it will only expel the ash back into the atmosphere. You can also gently sweep ash with a push broom and put into plastic bags for disposal.
- Clean from top to bottom and move around the room. Wipe surface areas or items with a damp cloth or mop. Rinse as necessary. Close doors after finishing each room. Pour water into vegetation and not down the drain.
- Don’t forget the toys. Wipe them with a damp cloth and the clean before allowing your children or pets to play with them.
- After removing the initial layer of ash, don’t forget to vacuum sofas, chairs, carpets and beds as they too will have a layer of ash. To keep furniture and surfaces cleaner roll up area rugs and cover furniture after you’ve vacuumed them.
- Gently hose exterior areas by directing water into landscaped areas and not into storm drains. You can also sweep first and then gently hose. Accumulated ash can be hosed and then bagged and placed in the trash bin.
- If you have a vegetable or fruit garden be sure to wash it well as ash has mostly likely accumulated on it.
- Lastly, just as in a construction clean-up, there is dust and ash in the atmosphere. It will most likely resettle and will need to be wiped again in a few days.
Cleaning is a task in and of itself, but dealing with ash which may contain hazardous metals, chemicals and potentially asbestos can be toxic. Be safe and be prepared.